Former City No2 Lee Clark has spoken for the first time about his decision to quit Norfolk and be his own master at Huddersfield Town – and just what a “tough” decision it was to leave his long-time friend and mentor, Glenn Roeder.
Clark, 36, also confirmed that the Terriers only made their formal approach for his services on Monday; ensuring that Roeder's 'wild speculation' statement of the week earlier stood up to scrutiny.
“”It was a tough decision to leave Norwich, because they're a good club and I had a great relationship with Glenn Roeder,” said Clark, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Terriers.
He will have a watching brief in tomorrow's League One clash with Southend before being 'the man' on Monday morning as he finally realises his long-held ambition of being his own boss and – potentially – takes another significant step towards realising the biggest dream of them all and managing his beloved Newcastle United.
“From my first day as reserve coach at Newcastle I knew that one day I wanted to be a manager in my own right,” said Clark, as he met the West Yorkshire media for the first time today – the final details on his first managerial deal sorted out.
By his side were the first two members of 'Team Lee' – ex-Manchester City and England coach Derek Fazackerley and Jonny Wilkinson's best pal and mental mentor, Steve Black.
Who, of course, could be found in the corridors of Colney for spells last season.
As an equally long-standing friend of Clark, the colourful one-time Tyneside bouncer will be there to add a bit of mental resolve come the challenges that lie ahead.
“I want to take those tough decisions and I want to be in the firing line,” Clark told the Huddersfield Examiner tonight. “I feel it's what I'm cut out for and I can't wait to get cracking on Monday.”
In the busy little merry-go-round that was the A1 this week, Clark's replacement as Newcastle United reserve team boss – Adam Sadler – has now proved tobe his successor at Colney, albeit as a 'senior coach' as opposed to an outright No2.
Like Sadler with his arrival speech yesterday, Clark too remarked on the number of top coaches and managers that he had worked under – and the copious notes that he had taken en route. Both Sadler and Clark are currently completing the same UEFA 'Pro' licence coaching course – the highest coaching qualification in the professional game.
Both young men are in a hurry – they have ambitions to fullfil; places to get.
“I've always been one for analysing and making notes of what I've done in training, and I've been working my way through the various coaching badges since I was in my twenties,” said Clark.
“I've played and worked under some great managers, and while I've taken a lot of things on board from them, I think I'm my own man, and I'll put my own stamp on things.”
He was, he said, swayed by the sales 'pitch' delivered by the club's chairman-elect Dean Hoyle. And after being reportedly pursued by Carlisle United for their managerial post earlier this summer, Clark now felt that both the place and the people were right to take a bold leap into the managerial unknown.
“Listening to what (chairman-elect) Dean Hoyle had to say about his plans about taking the club forward really whetted my appetite for the challenge,” he told The Examiner.
“The vision of Dean and the board is very similar to my own in terms of the structure of the club, the way we want things to be run and the way we want to achieve consistency and continuity.
“As we began talking about things, everything just fell into place, and it was a move I just couldn't turn down.
“I've been preparing for this moment since my first steps as a professional footballer and I am more than ready.”
Back in Norfolk and with his new-look backroom staff settling into their Thames Valley hotel after a day's training at England's coaching HQ at Bisham Abbey and Roeder was at least in receipt of one piece of good news ahead of tomorrow's game against Reading – Carl Cort's international clearance had arrived in time for him to make his first appearance on the bench.
With Leroy Lita ineligible and Antoine Sibierski still injured, the arrival of Cort's paperwork is very well-timed as Roeder ponders long and hard as to whether or not to give Arturo Lupoli a start or else turn to a combination of Darel Russell and Wes Hoolahan in those forward roles – Russell offering the kind of physicality that appears to be held against the on-loan Italian.
Otherwise, given the level of their performance against Watford in mid-week, City could remain largely unchanged with John Kennedy left tobide his time on the bench as Elliot Omosuzi continues to impress at centre-half.